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Bangladesh's Elite Paramiltary Unit Is Under Fire for Human Rights Violations. This Blogger Asks: What About Israel's IDF?

An activist is picked up by an RAB agent in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during a nationwide strike called by the main opposition party in June 2011. Photo by   Rahat Khan. Copyright Demotix.

An activist is picked up by an RAB agent in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during a nationwide strike called by the main opposition party in June 2011. Photo by Rahat Khan. Copyright Demotix.

Brad Adams, the executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, has recently written a letter to Bangladesh's prime minister suggesting that the Bangladesh government should disband the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Quoting news sources, he accused the RAB of being responsible for more than 800 extrajudicial killings in the past 10 years.

Human rights organizations have long accused the elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit, which was created in 2004, of human rights violations. A number of its members are under investigation in Bangladesh in connection to the abduction and killing of seven men (see Global Voices report).

Some netizens were Irked by the tone of Adam's letter to a sovereign country. Blogger Himu wrote for Bangla blog Sachalayatan a response to Adams, suggesting he be consistent and write to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

ব্র্যাড অ্যাডামস লিখেছেন, “র‌্যাবকে এখন আর সংস্কার করে চালানো সম্ভব বলে আমরা বিশ্বাস করি না। আইনের ঊর্ধ্বে থেকে কোনো ধরনের জবাবদিহিতার তোয়াক্কা না করে র‌্যাব পরিচালনার একটি সংস্কৃতি তৈরি হয়ে গেছে। এই অবস্থায় এ বাহিনীকে অবশ্যই বিলুপ্ত করতে হবে, যাতে হত্যাকাণ্ড বন্ধ করা হয়।”

মানবাধিকারবারি ব্র্যাড অ্যাডামসের উদ্বেগের প্রতি শ্রদ্ধা জানিয়ে এবার একটা ছোটো আবদার করি। প্যাড থেকে আরেকটা কাগজ ছিঁড়ুন। কলমদানি থেকে কলমটা বের করে খাপ খুলুন। তারপর লিখুন ইসরায়েলের প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে। তাকে বলুন, ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেস প্রতিষ্ঠানটিকেও বিলুপ্ত করে দিতে। ২০০০ সাল থেকে ২০১২ সাল পর্যন্ত ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেসের হাতে নিহত ফিলিস্তিনিদের একটি পরিসংখ্যান পাবেন এখানে। এদের মাঝে একটি বড় অংশ নিরীহ বেসামরিক মানুষ, তাদের একটা বড় অংশ শিশু, এবং সংখ্যাটাও ৮০০ থেকে বেশি।

আমি নিশ্চিত, আপনি বিশ্বাস করেন না যে ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেসকে সংস্কার করে চালানো সম্ভব। কাজেই ফিলিস্তিনে নির্বিচার হত্যাকাণ্ড বন্ধ করার জন্য যে এই বাহিনীকে বিলুপ্ত করার অনুরোধ আপনি ইসরায়েলি প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে করবেন, সেরকম তো আমরা ধরে নিতেই পারি। নাকি?

কবে আপনি ঐ চিঠিটি লিখবেন, দেখার জন্যে সাগ্রহে অপেক্ষা করছি।

Brad Adams wrote, “We do not believe that RAB can be reformed. It has developed a culture of operating above the law without civilian accountability. It must be disbanded so that the killings come to an end.”

With respect to human rights activist Mr. Brad Adams, I would request him to tear another page from his pad, take a pen and to write a similar letter to the Israeli prime minister urging him to disband the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). You will have the accounts of killings by IDF available here. A lot of these victims are innocent civilians and a large portion of them are children, and the number is a lot more than 800.

I am sure you will agree with me that the IDF cannot be reformed. So can we hope that you will also suggest the Israeli prime minister that IDF should be disbanded?

We are eagerly waiting to see when you will write this letter.

One commenter wondered cynically:

মানবধিকারের সংজ্ঞা বোধহয় অঞ্চল ভেদে ভিন্ন হয়।

Perhaps human rights is defined differently in regions of the world.

Indians Say Goodbye To Orkut, Reluctantly

Indian users are reacting to the impending demise of Google's Orkut social networking platform. Orkut is the oldest citizen media site Indians used and around 20% of Orkut’s users today are from India.

Vinaya Naidu at Lighthouse Insights compiles some of the users’ comments on the end of Orkut:

Priya Mittal was able to find her first childhood classmate via Orkut, which “felt like a miracle then.”

Avid biker Vishal Kataria: “It took me a while to leave Orkut and switch to Facebook because I got attached to it. Somehow, that feeling has never occurred for Facebook.”

Deported Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers Speak of Mistreatment by Australian Authorities

Thirty seven Sinhalese and four Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka sailed in a boat towards Australia and were intercepted west of the Cocos Island late last month by Australian authorities. They were returned to Sri Lanka, their point of origin, and they appeared in a court in the country's southwest yesterday.

Journalist Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai reports that the Sri Lankan deportees claimed that they were mistreated. He also tweeted (@DushiYanthini) photos and news from the ground:

Citizen journalism site Groundviews also commented:

Mobile Phones Drive Social And Economic Changes In Pakistan

From a slow start in the late Nineteen Nineties mobile phone penetration in Pakistan has jumped up in recent years to 77% nationally and amongst urban class people to almost 100%. Dr. Tahir Rauf at Pak Tea House reports that the ubiquitous mobile phone use in Pakistan has brought a lot of social and economic changes:

These changes in a broader context called Pakistani neoliberalism, characterized by accelerated consumerism with full scale participation in the global economy.

Srinagar-Leh Highway: An Adventurous Road Trip

The 434-kilometer-long Srinagar-Leh Highway is a spectacular and often scary highway in the Kashmir Valley. This road, which is open for traffic from June to November, is generally muddy, gravely and non-existent at best. The Zoji La mountain pass at 3,528 meters is particularly dangerous with only enough clearance for one-way traffic risking 1,000 meter drops. Minor Sights, a travel blog, posts details about the Srinagar-Leh road trip including the above video report.

This Video Parodies What a Government-Approved Sex Education Class in India Would Look Like

Stand-up comedian Sourav Pant‘s comedy company East Indian Comedy has uploaded a YouTube video lampooning what a government-approved sex education class in India would look like. The video has gone viral, with more than 1 million hits in three days.

The video mocks a suggestion made by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan a few weeks ago that sex education should be banned in Indian schools (he later claimed his comments were taken out of context) as well as parodies how teachers shy away from discussing the issue in the class.

“Sex Education in India” created a buzz on social media. Santosh Kumar wrote on the East Indian Comedy's Facebook page: “The same thing happened with me when i was in school!”

Some like Sravan Kumar did not like the video: “Dont forget India is the country which gave Kaama sutra to the world.”

Bangladeshi Sex Workers Take Cow Steroids To Mask Their Real Age

ActionAid, a British charity, mentioned in a recent report that 90% of commercial sex workers in Bangladesh are addicted to Oradexon, a steroid meant for cattle. Diaspora Bangladeshi blogger Anushay Hossain explains why they use this drug:

This medicine meant to fatten cows has become the preferred drug among the madams [employers of sex workers] of Bangladesh. They are using the pills to mask the real age of the underage girls working for sex in their brothels by making them appear older and at the same time making the more ‘seasoned’ sex-worker look plum and voluptuous.

Yes, I Wear a Bra, and It's Visible. So?

Nivedita N Kumar, a journalist, posts an emotional Facebook note which has gone viral. Here is an excerpt from the powerful essay that lashes at the notion of the Indian patriarchal society that clothes provoke rapists:

Why? Why do you do that? Stare at my breasts like they are cute babies calling out to be cuddled. Strip me naked, slowly, every time I enter the bus? Try to glimpse into my cleavage when I am sitting and reading in the metro.

Who gives you the right? To grope me in the crowded bus? To fall on me “innocently” when I buy popcorn in the theater. When I sit cross legged in the auto and you stop your bike and look hungrily at my legs.

A piece of meat, am I?

How do you think I feel? When I have to continuously watch over my shoulder, because it is 10 pm and there is nobody at the bus stop, except you. Staring at my neck.

The post itself got more than 35000 shares and after it was shared by the Logical Indian, it has so far received more than 260000 likes and more than 64000 shares.

Attacks Against Muslims Continue In Sri Lanka

It has been two weeks since the violent riots against Muslims in the Sri Lankan coastal cities of Aluthgama and Beruwala. Although the situation has died down after widespread condemnation, sporadic violence against Muslims continues in different parts of Sri Lanka.

Blogger Abdul Khaleq tweets about one such recent incident in the Ratmalana division in Colombo district:

Blogger D. B. S. Jeyaraj has details on the unsuccessful arson attack on the Thalayan Bawa Jumma Mosque on Borupane road in Ratmalana in the early hours of 29 June, 2014.

Jonbeel, a Barter Market in the 21st Century

 People from the Tiwa community catching fish during the “Community Fishing” and Tiwa women exchanging their commodities by barter system, as part of the ‘Jonbeel Mela’ at Jonbeel lake. Image by Abdul Sajid. Copyright Demotix. (22/10/2010)

Tiwa women exchange their commodities by barter system, as part of the ‘Jonbeel Mela’ at Jonbeel lake. Image by Abdul Sajid. Copyright Demotix. (22/10/2010)

The centuries old Jonbeel Mela, a community fair in the northeast Indian state of Assam, has a unique ritual. Around 10,000 indigenous people from tribes like the Karbi, Khasi, Tiwa, and Jayantia of the northeast come down from the hills to the Jonbeel wetlands with their produce or catch and interchange with the local people in a barter system. Usha Dewani at the India Water Portal reports that the annual three-day festival has been celebrated since the 15th century. Around 100,000 people visit the market each year.

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